On Sunday morning, early, before the true heat of the day I was skimming flies and leaves from the top of the splash pool. It’s like a big paddling pool or a Barbie sized Olympic swimming pool.
In the woods, two wood pigeons were chatting in that warm throaty way that they do in the early morning in summer, their voices floating over the gardens. I swept the sieve through the water, and listened to the sound of it drip, and swoosh and echo like it does only in a swimming pool and never in the washing up.
It took me out of the garden and back to the 1970s.
I was somewhere between 10 and 14. It was early, maybe 6 am on a day in July or August, and it promised to be ferociously hot.
It had been ferociously hot for some days, and although I lived on the river Itchen, and I’d been forced to swim in it every day, I longed for this
The sparkling blue of a swimming pool.
So I climbed on my bike and cycled a few miles up the road to a house where I knew there was a pool, a beautiful circular huge swimming pool in a walled garden surrounded by roses and fruit trees.
I sort of knew the family that lived there, but not very well.
I hid my bike in the hedge and crept up the drive and through the creaky gate of the walled garden.
There was the pool, but to my disappointment, it was spotted with flies and leaves. It wasn’t as perfect as I had imagined it.
I changed in a damp hut that smelled of rubber and chlorine, and stood ankle deep on the first step of the pool.
The water was cold, but there were no fish, no weed, no crayfish – and I had cycled quite a long way. So I launched myself in, twisting over and over and pretending to have a good time, but all the while a little anxious, a little disappointed.
I dipped in and out, diving as silently as I could from the board into the centre of the pool before climbing out to listen to the water running back into the pool. There was just me and the slop slop of the ripples hitting the side and bouncing back on themselves. I sat and hugged my goosepimpled legs, watched only by the wood pigeons calling in the copper beech trees over head. And then, as the clock struck in the village, I slipped out of my costume, snuck back through the bushes and cycled home.
I never did it again.